May 5, 1949. The Council of Europe is created with the signing of the Treaty of London by the ten original member states. Today, the Council comprises 47 member states with a collective population of around 800 million citizens. It is an entirely separate entity from the European Union although it does share symbols including its flag and anthem. At the outset in the upheaval caused by World War II, its goal was to achieve greater unity among its members and promote the sharing of common principles such as the defence of democracy and human rights. Unlike the EU it does not create laws but rather establishes conventions and invites non-European nations to sign and ratify them. Many cite as its most significant achievement the European Convention on Human Rights, which led to the creation of the European Court of Human Rights.
Also on May 5: Napoleon Bonaparte dies in exile on St.Helena (1821); Chanel launches its iconic No.5 perfume (1921); the Netherlands and Denmark are liberated from Nazi occupation (1945); Irish republican activist Bobby Sands dies in prison after 66 days of hunger strike (1981).
Born on May 5: Soren Kierkegaard (1813), Karl Marx (1818), Tammy Wynette (1942), Michael Palin (1943).